Mount Pleasant Mount Pleasant from 2005 is an odd little short story. The story’s narrative technique and language is very unique because it allows you to see a child’s world from its perspective. The way the story is written makes you think of your own childhood where ghosts and the darkness were the scariest things in the whole wide world. Below, I will analyze this odd little short story, and also give you an interpretation of Mary-Louise Buxton’s Mount Pleasant where she so curiously writes about Elizabeth and her imaginative everyday life.
The short story is about a girl Elizabeth who narrates the reader through her everyday life. How she discovers the world, how she sees her parents, and how she interprets things. This short story is not like any other short story, because normally you would have this big climax, with life-changing experiences, and the main theme to tell you how to live your life. This story is “just” a little child’s experiences. The thing that makes this story interesting is the extraordinary first-person narrator. The story is in a way written like some sort of diary by a six-year-old. I think the narrator is about six because she talks about the boy on the picture and he looks around 9-10 not much older than her: “He’s maybe nine or ten, not that much older than I am” The Narrator does not alter the spoken language; it makes the story seem a bit messy but also childish. The language is a big part of this short story because the writer, Mary-Louise, plays with names for objects and concepts, words, and the way the different parts of the story are put together.
Talking about names, it could be named such as: “Mammy” “The Look” “Granny ‘Omi’s Duckering Ball” “Babby” “Boo Boo” Playing with nicknames like this gives the story a childish feeling, and if Mary-Louise had chosen to use a “grown-up” language the story would not have been the same, so this is most likely why this kind of language is chosen. You instantly know the narrator is a child because the little girl is having a constant urge for being entertained. It is hard for her to focus. It is seen a couple of times in the story, at first it is kind of confusing, but the second time you read the story the meaning of it gets more clear. The best example is when she is talking about her mother’s behavior, in the situation where her dad puts the picture of the little boy on the mantelpiece. Then out of nowhere, our protagonist begins talking about the area and how everyone knows her and her sister, how the nuns treat them, the different shops in the area, and then followed by a very descriptive list of sweets you can get at the corner in the tub shop:
And then there’s the tub shop on the corner where you can go in and buy big tubs of ice cream, and get sweets out of great big glass jars behind the counter – raspberry ruffles and chewing nuts and chocolate raisins and licorice sticks and ice cups and strawberry bootlace” And after talking about the candy she suddenly returns to the time and place she broke loose from. Changing the subjects is confusing, but also what you would expect a child to do. Another thing that keeps it childish is the small ‘wake up! ’ line such as Mammy said not to get dirty. ” “We never want to go home. ” They spice up the language, and would definitely be something a child would do. It fits very well with the narrative structure of the story If you look at the characters other than the protagonist, you immediately think of the parents. I think it is good writing, because not only are the parents the most important character in a child’s life, it is also two of the most important character in this short story. You get the impression that the mother is the strict one:
If I see that bloody picture again at tea time” “Mammy said not to get dirty” The father is the exact opposite he is the fun one, the one who lets Elizabeth and her sister stay op late and the less strict one. The father has a more childish language saying Boo Boo and Bobby dazzler. However, the father may not be as sweet and loving as you would expect. One night he takes his two daughters to bed and the dog will no move and instead of calling it by its name he is saying ‘dog’ and then he slaps the dog so hard that it gets scared and hide under the table.
I did not notice it at first because our narrator does not make it unusually and a big deal, it makes you think that it could have happened before. All through the story, I waited for something bad or devastating to happen, but nothing happened, or maybe the real disaster is hidden? In the end, it is mentioned that the mother picks up the picture of the boy and puts it back on to the mantelpiece, and you hear Elizabeth’s thoughts about it dropping down in the night. But earlier in the story, it says: “I run to the mantelpiece and put the picture in the grate”. She had put it there herself, so it could be understood as a symbol of the disorder. The night where this happens could very well be the night where Elizabeth sees a ghost walking around and locking her to her bed. When you have a child as your narrator, it is always hard to tell if something really happened, maybe Elizabeth did see this ghost, or it could be that nothing happened during that night, it was just normal behavior from a child who was scared in the dark. It is a hard deal knowing when children speak the truth and when they overreact.
This story is definitely not like your typical short story, it is cryptic and you have to read it a few times before you get what is going on. Maybe the message is just how a child sees the world and how you have to remember to dream and imagine, with themes such as being imaginative, childhood, and fear.
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